Hiding In Plain Sight

Becoming a teenager we start to make choices, how to be individual, how to be who we want to be in the world. Are we going to conform or are we going to not-conform. Although even when we’re not conforming we have to be aware of what conforming looks like in order do the opposite. We are never truly free as we are either tracking the conformity in order to be like it or else tracking the conformity to maintain its exact opposite.

I believe we spend our teenage years hiding, building barriers between ourselves and the world, perhaps the types and numbers and levels and severities of barriers fit our upbringing, our society, our family situations. The juxtaposition of building the barrier is that the barrier becomes a beacon, for example growing a beard. When I was coming of age in the eighties beards were a niche item, worn / grown only by those who were still grieving the seventies or by bikers and metal-heads. But a beard is just a beard, so in order to be counter-conformist it had to be be big. Now I’m no longer hiding, I’m standing out. I have a huge beard, so my character has to grow to hold it. Then it’s no longer just the huge beard, it’s also long hair. Maybe just the long hair isn’t cutting it anymore in my peer group, so we start to look for justifications and historical references. Maybe you go the Tolkien route, or start reading Viking lore and long hair is plaited, beards are plaited, tattoos become iconic. Maybe your friends don’t grow beards so well, maybe piercings are their thing. One or two piercings, an ear or two, maybe a nostril, are well, quite frankly rather conformist. So more are required. Or perhaps bigger hoops, longer dangles, chains from ear to nose, bigger holes, more holes, holes in places that other people, ‘normal’ people, square people, don’t have them. Add to this smoking, vaping, drug-taking, fast food, over-eating, under-eating. Those last years of our teens where patterns are created and lifestyles are set and peer groups are strong. This is the foundation of our twenties. But the more we hide behind these elaborate masks the more we stand out, and the more we stand out the greater the character has to be that we create to hide the part of us that we wanted to hide in the first place.

And then all of this nonsense of our teens gets abandoned in our twenties, we’re now looking for jobs, looking for promotion, getting married, having babies, buying houses. Heads down we play house and take on the gender roles of our parents and grand-parents. Maybe we learned to be different or maybe we are still playing out the scripts they have given us. We see the kids taking the world we thought we’d created and subverting it for themselves, the music grows further and further away from where we left it.

But if our growing years has made us conform, and we are now acting out our roles like good consumers should, where has all the energy gone that we put into creating those alter egos of our teens?

“Energy can neither be created nor destroyed; rather it can only be transformed from one form to another.” – 1st Law of Thermodynamics

We’ve buried it, we’ve suppressed it and we’ve set ourselves up for the fall. The classic mid-life crisis is coming and it comes earlier and lasts longer than ever before now. By our thirties we have found new ways to numb the existential angst that we see gnawing at the corners of our world and once again we start to reach for the crutches of our teenage years to prove we’re still alive.

“The Long Bag We Drag Behind Us…. all aspects of ourselves that are unacceptable and displeasing to our family, peers, and society, goes into the bag and it continues to fill until we’re twenty, after which we spend the rest of our lives trying to retrieve from” – Robert Bly

But beards, and piercings and tattoos and obesity are now the norm and the kids are wearing retro and all our old clothes are in the vintage shops now. Walking down the magazine aisle of Sainsbury’s, there are shelves of music magazines, guitar magazines, rock magazines, classic rock, prog rock, all espousing music from the 1960’s and 1970’s. Learn to play like the Rolling Stones, Guns and Roses 30th Anniversary tour, The Doors, King Crimson. Turn a corner and they are selling vinyl again. Our old tricks no longer work, we can no longer work on ourselves to create our own individuality, albeit within the parameters of the peer group we have chosen. We may have lost our youth but we have gained affluence and our affluence opens new doors to new hiding places. Which one is yours?

Wine, just a bottle or two each night?
Season ticket, a few beers in the week, a few more on the weekend?
A Conservatory, astro turf?
Bigger TV, sound bar, another DVD?
Takeaways, barbecues, restaurants, hydrogenated fats and MSG?
Motorbike, sports car?
Just another car, because, well the old one’s getting old?

So where are we now? We are created in the images of our parents, twenty years of relationship learning through osmosis. We define ourselves in our teenage years and follow a path of conformity or rebellion. Take any action or belief of our parents and I guarantee we will either do the same or the opposite. In the next decade we suppress it all and the decade after that it all leaks out again. We don’t recognise these things of ourselves though because we have worked all our lives to suppress them, so we will always see them in others We will be drawn to those others and see in those others the traits we have hidden away from ourselves. When we recognise this then we can begin to know what we have never known. And like the Hanged Man in Tarot represents surrender or sacrifice, our constructed ego must die in order for us to grow anew.

“In the encounter with Shadow, your conscious personality will sometimes be overwhelmed or shattered. Your ego might experience a death, but it will thereby be enabled to later rise from the ashes like a phoenix endowed with new powers…” – Bill Plotkin

What we must learn is to find the the third path, that of our own voice.

We must start again.

“…and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognised as your own,
that kept you company
as you stride deeper and deeper
into the world…” – Mary Oliver – The Journey

 

Boil ‘em Cabbage Down Lyrics

These are the verses we sing for Boil ‘em Cabbage Down, most are genuine official verses but some we just like to make up ourselves so don’t be surprised if no-one else knows what you’re on about if you sing one of our verses at a hoe-down or jam.

The tune in C goes:

CC FF CC GG
CC FF CG CC

And for the 5 string banjo tuned in Open G, the melody notes are all on the first string except for the last bar where they are on the second string of the C chord:

C(1)C(1) F(1)F(1) C(1)C(1) G(1)G(1)
C(1)C(1) F(1)F(1) C(1)G(1) C(2)C(2)

You can also have some fun mixing it up alternating 1 and 4:

C(4)C(4) F(1)F(1) C(4)C(4) G(1)G(1)
C(4)C(4) F(1)F(1) C(4)G(1) C(2)C(2)

Or use a 1 and 2 progression:

C(1)C(2) F(1)F(2) C(1)C(2) G(1)G(2)
C(1)C(2) F(1)F(2) C(1)G(1) C(2)C(2)

I had a play with this sequence in Week 20 of my Learning To Play Frailing Banjo videos – take a look here [link].

The Lyrics

Went up on a mountain, to give my a horn a blow
Thought I heard my true love say, yonder comes my beau

Boil ‘em cabbage down, down
Bake them oatcakes brown, brown
The only song that I can sing
Is boil them cabbage down

Heard my dog the other night, thought he’d tree’d a ‘coon
Saw them walking paw to paw, later by the light of the moon

Someone stole my old ‘coon dog, I wish they’d bring him back
He’d chase them hogs right over the fence and the little ones through a crack

Possum’s in a ‘simmon tree, racoon’s on the ground
Racoon says ‘you son of a gun, won’t you throw some ‘simmons down’

Racoon’s got a bushy tail, possum’s tail is bare
Rabbit’s got no tail at all, just an itty bitty bunch o’hair

Racoon and Possum, walking ‘cross the prairie
Racoon says to Possum ‘would you like to marry?’

Racoon’s died of the whooping cough, Possum’s died of the colic
Along comes a frog with a fiddle on his back enquiring the way to the frolic

The water in the river was mighty cold, we thought that we might drown
Along came a fisherman and pulled us out, back on to dry ground

Met a possum in the road, blind as he could be
Jumped the fence and whipped my dog and bristled up at me

Once I had an old grey mule, his name was Simon Slick
He’d roll his eyes and back his ears and how that mule could kick

How that mule would kick, he kicked with his dying breath
He shoved his hind feet down his throat and kicked himself to death

We also have a few ‘work in progress’ verses based on ‘Grandpa Willie’:

Grandpa Willie won’t wear no pants, Todd don’t know what to do
It wouldn’t be all that bad ‘cept Pammy won’t wear hers too

Todd and Pammy go dancin’, out on a Friday night
Grandpa Willie won’t take his meds, it’s gonna be a fight

Grandpa Willie says things were different, back in his old day
Bobby thinks he made it all up, it might just be that way

https://youtu.be/Rcuzi_mjS-E

Pasta With Home-Made Spicy Tomato Sauce

A quick and easy meal which can be made with a few basic ingredients, or use as a base for experimenting with additional ingredients some of which are suggested in the ‘Level Up’ sections.

Ingredients

1 Can of Chopped Tomatoes
Tomato Paste
Bouillon Vegetable Stock Powder
Cayenne Pepper
Mixed [Italian] herbs
Mushrooms (either whole button mushrooms or sliced / quartered larger ones)
Quorn Cocktail Sausages
Your favourite pasta, I’m using wholewheat Tagliatelle
[Level Up Ingredients]
1 Onion and some garlic cloves

The cooking doesn’t take long so you can either prepare everything up front, or if you are cooking on a one ring burner then prepare each step as the former is cooking.

The Tomato Sauce

[Level Up Option] Chop / dice the onion and garlic and fry until soft and caramelised.
Add mushrooms to the pan and allow to soften
Add can of tomatoes and bring to the boil
Wash out the tomato can with half a can of water and add to the pan
Squeeze in a few inches of tomato paste
Add a couple of teaspoons of mixed herbs
Add a couple of teaspoons of Bouillon powder
Turn the teaspoon around and use the handle to add a small amount of Cayenne Pepper, start off with a small amount as you can always add more but can never take it back out again!

Simmer this lot down for a short while, everything should go slightly mushy with a nice thick sauce, give it a taste and add more Cayenne Pepper if it’s tasting a bit tame to you. Then put to one side.

The Pasta

Boil up a large pan of water
Add 75g of pasta per person
Boil until cooked

The Finish

Put the tomato sauce back onto the heat
Slice up the cocktail sausages into chunks and add to the tomato sauce, stir up until nicely heated through again
Drain the pasta and then either add the sauce to the pasta and heat through or serve up the pasta and add the sauce on top.

This Damn War

Another song from early last year, recorded in the back of the yellow van parked up at a Devon campsite in August this year. I don’t play this one very often so I’m quite distracted looking over at the lyrics in this recording.

 

Here’s the lyrics, it would be great to see your interpretations of it:

D F maybe C

I don’t know where she got that frown from
I ain’t seen it anywhere before
But then things used to be much better
Way back before this damn war

I hear the gunfire crackling overhead
The politicians have all gone now
And the sick are left lying in their beds
Things used to be so much better back then

There ain’t many of us left now
Just me and her and this god damn war
I don’t know who we were fighting this for

I don’t know where she got that frown from
I didn’t see it anywhere before

Things could have been so much easier
If we’d only listened to what they said
Politicians have all gone now
They left us dying in our beds

 

 

 

Carrot Curry Recipe

One of my favourite meals at the moment is carrot curry, simple to make at home or camping, on a one or two ring burner, it provides a quick and healthy dinner.

Ingredients

Carrots
Onion
Garlic
Curry Powder
Rice

The cooking doesn’t take long so you can either prepare everything up front, or if you are cooking on a one ring burner then prepare each step as the former is cooking.

The Curry Sauce

Chop / dice the onion and garlic and fry until soft and caramelised.

To make this more of a Katsu curry add sliced ginger, soy sauce (1 tbsp) and honey (1 tsp)

Add a little water and curry powder (a couple of teaspoons per person) and simmer for a while.

Take off the heat and put to one side, optionally blend to a paste if you have a blender available.

The Rice

For speed and taste use white basmati, 80g per person. I always rinse with running water first and then add to a pan of boiling water.

In about 8 to 10 minutes the rice will be soft and fluffy and can be drained and then rinsed with boiling water.

For the camping version I forgo the after rinse but still rinse a little before cooking.

The Carrots

Slice the carrots and place in a large covered pan

Add a centimetre or so of water and place on a high heat

Stir through occasionally, the carrots should steam in 5 to 10 minutes

You can add variety by adding other veg into the steamer at the same time, perhaps sweet potatoes, asparagus or broccoli as you prefer.

IMG-2268

There’s a lot of different ways you can experiment with this recipe, everything is open to substitution ie completely replace carrots with sweet potato to make a sweet potato curry. Use mild or medium or stronger curry powder or paste to change the flavour. If you have more time you can add the vegetables to the curry sauce, add more water and boil them in the sauce instead of steaming them separately. Go wild and see what different combinations you can come up with.

Frailing Banjo Week 20

Week 20 of learning to play frailing banjo, and also the art of standing on my head. Both are progressing, sometimes forwards, sometimes backwards. Both crafts share some of the same requirements, patience of course and practice. Sometimes brute force gets you through to the next level and there you can find the nuances. The temptation with headstands is to rush the whole thing and use force and inertia to get upside down, of course then inertia being inertia it doesn’t just stop, it goes all the way over. Last week though I found a sweet spot, usually I’m spending all my effort balancing by making slight adjustments to leg positions – legs are inevitably sticking out all over the place – but this time I got both legs over my centre of balance and everything suddenly went quiet. I was balanced, without effort and without moving.

Sometimes that happens with the banjo, I’m playing and messing up every F change, the 1st string is dulled when I hit it as my finger hasn’t fretted it quite right, and then sometimes everything just falls into place.

This week I’m practicing ‘Boil ‘em Cabbage Down’ messing around with some of the other melody notes, hitting the 1st and 2nd strings I found that I could hear the resonance of that 2nd string hanging in the air and sounding almost as if a flute was accompanying the tune. I’m using the first riff of ‘John Hardy’ to practice the C to F to C change and then messing around with one of mine, ‘Woman Without Dog’, that has the D7 F C G progression.

We’re living without broadband at the moment, halfway between here and there, making do with mobile data and uploading videos sporadically.

Front Room

Front room,
Drawing room or parlour.
Best room.
Now a store room.
I write at an old table,
With drawers and planks screwed down on top.
A phone, a mug and a crowbar
Are my companions.
The street is silent for a moment.
18:37
Unlike the time the neighbour’s dog
Barked for three nights long, three long nights.
The ink in my pen runs out
And as I return with a new cartridge
Aware of the headache arriving soon
I step on a splinter of wood
From the busted up wardrobe.
My bare foot bared,
Unprotected.
The silence is over.
18:39